Fear of death, and how to have peace

Death. No one is indifferent to it. Sometimes it strikes close to us, and at some point it will reach us too. But no one knows when. And we think about it, sometimes more than on other occasions.

But why death? “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). A wage is what we are paid for what we have done. Well, God’s Word tells us that death is the consequence of sin.

But what exactly is sin?

If we leave it up to everyone to define what it is, we will have a very wide range of answers. That is why the One who created everything, this world, the universe, and everything that exists, the One who created us in His image, the God of the Bible, has Himself defined what is evil before Him, sin, so that there can be no doubt about it.

Have you ever lied? Or stolen, taken something that does not belong to you? Have you ever blasphemed, that is, used the name of God in vain, or of His Son Jesus Christ, to swear? Have you ever coveted, desired something that is not yours? Someone’s house, someone else’s wife, money, tools, the car, clothes, electronic devices, in short, anything that belongs to your neighbor? Have you had sex outside of marriage, or committed adultery by cheating on your spouse? Have you ever killed? Jesus said that “every one who looks upon a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). Jesus said that if someone insults or becomes lightly angry with his fellow man, he is just as condemnable as a murderer (Matthew 5:21-22).

These are just a few examples of what sin is in the eyes of God. Maybe you’ve done all these things. Maybe your upbringing has allowed you to do just a few of these things, and maybe only the less serious ones. But only one wrongdoing in the whole history of our lives puts us among the sinners before God. Period. Why is that? Because God is absolutely holy and sinless, and He cannot turn a blind eye to sin and pretend that nothing has happened. And because He is righteous, He is going to demand justice for all the evil that you personally have done.

And so we read that “it is the portion of men once to die, and after this judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). You don’t get two lives, you don’t get two chances. God clearly states that after our lives, the time comes to give account for our sins. Life does not end after death. The good we could have done will not make up for the evil we have done. A single sin disqualifies us and makes us a sinner. No matter how small. And usually, one sin never comes alone. We will be judged for the crimes we have done, not for the good we would have done.

Those who will stand before God for the judgment of their sins will all be found guilty, without exception and without appeal. They will then be thrown “into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15), “into the outer darkness: there will be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 8:12), “where their worm dies not, and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:44). This place of eternal punishment is called “the second death” (Revelation 21:8).

But how can this judgment be avoided? How can we avoid finding ourselves in that place of pain and sorrow where God, as judge, will have no choice, because of His infinite holiness, to send all sinners?

It is a very good thing that you seriously and personally ask yourself this question, because God also does not want you to end up in that place. If God is perfectly holy and just, He is also love. Listen carefully. If your eyes have been opened to the reality of your sin before God, and the judgment that is to come, there is good news.

The means that God has given so that we may be saved from the coming judgment, the only means, is His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes on Him may not perish, but have life eternal” (John 3:16). Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of Mary, a young virgin. Jesus is perfectly God and perfectly man. His words of grace and truth, His perfect deeds, His perfect heart, His perfect walk, His perfect thoughts, and the miracles that God the Father gave Him to perform in order to prove His divinity and approve His message, were seen and heard by many witnesses who were with Him. Their testimony remains with us to this day in the Gospels and the New Testament.

In everything we read about Jesus, we see His complete purity and holiness. He never committed sin, nor could He, for sin was not in Him. Whoever saw Him, saw the perfection of God Himself. Jesus, the Son of God, came into this world not to teach us to be perfect like Him—that would be impossible for us who are sold to sin—but to come and pay in our place the wages that our sins deserved: death. He did this out of love for you, personally. When He was unjustly delivered up to death, and was crucified on a cross as the worst of evildoers, He took upon Himself our faults and sins and received the judgment of God in our place: death. He was forsaken by God on the cross, because He “bore our sins in His body” (1 Peter 2:24), and paid the price that we could not pay before God. He, the Son of God, because He is as infinitely holy and righteous as God, was able to pay, through His sacrifice on the cross, the wages that our sins deserved.

His resurrection from the dead on the third day is proof that God accepted His sacrifice on the cross. Jesus “has been delivered for our offences and has been raised for our justification” (Romans 4:25). And God highly exalted Him and seated Him at His right hand in heaven. He will soon return to take with Him into heaven all who believe in Him and in what He has done for them on the cross.

Acknowledge your sins before God. You are under condemnation and judgment because of them. But do not stop there. Accept the testimony that God has given about His own Son! He came to die willingly to suffer in your place the judgment you deserved. If you believe this in your heart, and if, acknowledging your sins before God, you accept that Jesus paid the infinite debt that you had incurred before God because of your sins, God will declare you righteous. And He is righteous in doing this because His Son has paid in your place. But you must believe and receive what He offers you by His grace.

“The wages of sin is death; but,” the verse continues, “the act of favor [or the gift] of God, eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). It is a gift of grace. We cannot buy it by our efforts or our possessions. It is given freely from God to him who believes.

And true faith is accompanied by repentance, that is, a real regret before God for all your sins, and for having thus lived as an enemy of God. He who understands all the suffering it has cost Jesus in order for us to be justified before God will no longer desire to live in sin, but to walk in newness of life.

Accept the peace that God offers you. You will have peace with God and the peace of God. Death was conquered by Jesus Christ when he rose from the dead. The fear of death disappears when the issue of sin and judgment is settled before God.

He who believes is forever safe from judgment. But more than that. The Spirit of God comes to dwell in him. He is a new creation. He has new desires for righteousness and holiness. He is in Christ, and he is loved by God like His own Son.

Believe and have peace with God. You will never see death the same way again. You will have the peace of God.